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Photo: Project Worthmore, Samantha Hines

How to Support Refugee and Immigrant Families in Colorado

These local organizations provide opportunities to give (or receive) help.

The Biden administration announced in September Colorado was slated to receive more than 800 Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover by the end of that month.

“We are building a Colorado for All where we appreciate people from all over the world who call our state home, respect traditions, and are proud to welcome new arrivals,” Governor Polis said in August while helping International Rescue Committee staff and volunteers set up a home for an Afghan refugee family.

Wondering how your family can help refugee families as they get settled in Colorado? Connect with one of the organizations listed below.

Lutheran Family Services collects resettlement supplies including furnishings, household items, bus passes, and clothing to share with refugees. Search the list of donation items needed, on their website. Families can also volunteer by packing Thanksgiving bags, Christmas presents, or school supplies seasonally. The in-home tutoring program matches volunteers with a high school-aged refugee student to cover basic literacy and subject competency. Refugees who need legal assistance can request a consultation to review immigration history and potential forms of relief.  Denver, Colorado Springs, and Greeley

The African Community Center’s services include resettlement housing, case management, health navigation, school enrollment, employment, and more. Its integration programs We Made This and Ready for American Hospitality provide artisan sewing classes and food service training respectively, so refugees can advance in a career. Program sign ups and ways to support the participants (shop handmade products or sponsor a student) are available online. Denver

Another resettlement agency, the International Rescue Committee, helps with rent, healthcare, job skills, child education, and legal and social services. Denver’s location includes psychosocial support and family stabilization. Volunteers can find household item donation lists as well as information about the Housing Outreach Mentorship Education program (team-based financial and social support) online.

Project SHINE at Spring Institute provides health literacy training, patient navigation, and community engagement services to refugee and immigrant families living in Denver and Aurora. ESL and GED classes, plus a program that helps healthcare professionals re-establish their careers, are also available. The Ready Tots program includes children and their daytime caregivers in social/emotional development and education. Volunteers can sign up for training online.  

Project Worthmore recently opened a new building located off of east Colfax in Aurora. From there, they operate a dental clinic, English language program, and case management. Offsite, they run a 5-acre sustainable agriculture farm that supports refugees, and a Family Partner program that pairs volunteers with refugee families to develop meaningful relationships. Volunteers can help bag necessities for the Yu Meh Food Share, create care packages, work at the farm, assist in classroom instruction, or become a family partner.

Focus Points, located in the Globeville-Elyria-Swansea (GES) neighborhood, hosts community events such as the Fatherhood Fall Festival and Globeville Community Farmers Market in addition to helping individuals and families with education and health classes. Individual volunteers can aid ESL classes, and groups can sign up for building and renovation projects and cleaning at the Comal Heritage Food Incubator.

Artists and artisans, who also happen to be refugees and immigrants, share their wares through Ruby’s Market. Shop groceries, spices, baked goods, home goods, and hygiene products online or at the South Pearl Street store. Volunteers can mentor and support vendors, assist with logistics during event days, help pack pantry care bags for refugee families, and share any ideas for further engagement.

The Asian Pacific Development Center provides culturally specific mental and medical health care, language assistance, and crime victim support. They also host a Youth Fellowship Program that trains immigrant and refugee leaders of color ages 15 to 24 through hands-on community leadership experience. Volunteers can spread holiday cheer through donating gifts from the organization’s wish list, or help facilitate online ESL classes and mentor Youth Fellows.

At school, refugees and allies alike can advocate for procedures that look after new families’ health. School communities might conduct their own resource drive for refugee families according to their needs, ensure culturally relevant foods are available, or pair new refugee students with peers to help navigate their first few weeks of school.

Teachers and education staff can learn how to identify signs of PTSD, that refugee children and teens may be experiencing, using the National Child Traumatic Stress Network guidance.

Anyone can share the national Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services website with families navigating unfamiliar systems and cultural differences in the U. S. The site offers multilingual resources covering the public school system, tips for supporting learning at home, anti-bullying materials, and ideas for community involvement. 

The Colorado Refugee Connect website recommends some of these and several other organizations that support refugee and immigrant family integration.

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